The internet is awash with online dating and matchmaking services, but the husband and wife duo behind AiMatchMaker believe ethnic Chinese people have been left behind. August Shiau (蕭存智) and Tilaine Wang (王亭嵐) told The News Lens International the combination of new technology and personalized service can help.

The News Lens International (TNLI): What is the origin of AiMatchMaker and when did you come up with the idea for the business?

August Shiau: Tilaine – my wife and business partner – grew up in Taiwan, got a master's in Speech and Interpersonal Communication from NYU, and had lived in the States for seven years. She got engaged at the age of 26, married at 27, and then divorced at 29. (Yes, I am her second marriage.) After seeing her go through the whole process and end up getting married again, all of her friends, both in Asia and the States, started using her as their own relationship-marriage consultant. So, the idea is indeed based on her own experience and the constant requests and feedback from people around us. In order to make the whole project more credible, Tilaine even went to the Matchmaking Institute for a matchmaker certificate.

TNLI: Can you briefly describe what AiMatchMaker does?

Shiau: AiMatchMaker is a tech-enabled matchmaking service for ethnic Chinese singles around the world. Our slogan is “Love is everywhere, so are Chinese.” More specifically, we're building a tech-enabled global matchmaking service for ethnic Chinese singles looking for a serious relationship or a lifetime partner who is also ethnic Chinese and shares the same values. We combine two major components: a global mobile app that provides online matchmaking service without location limitation and accumulates a quality candidate pool from ethnic Chinese singles all over the world; and, an one-on-one premium service that provides a full scope matchmaking service, including consultation, a dating coach, candidate selection-matching and date facilitation, by professional matchmakers.

TNLI: What is the target market for AiMatchMaker?

Shiau: We focus on ethnic Chinese singles around the world. We started from Taiwan and North America (i.e. U.S. and Canada), where collectively there are over 3 million eligible Chinese singles aged between 25 to 50. (Yes, we’re for serious relationships!) But so far we already have users from 37 countries all over the world. With proper alliance or partnerships, we’re also interested in getting more engaged with Southeast Asia and the China market.

TNLI: What is the current funding status?

Shiau: Even when the fundraising environment is tough, we’re still recognized by investors for our vision and execution. In fact, we’re about to secure several hundred thousand U.S. dollars in seed fund from an institutional investor. With the funding support, we will be expanding both our engineering team and matchmaker team for more rapid product and system development and business growth.

TNLI: What do you regard as the biggest success that AiMatchMaker has achieved so far?

Shiau: We’re the first one in the ethnic Chinese market that challenges the stereotypes of long distance relationships and implements the concept of “match without location limitations.” This unique feature of AiMatchMaker solves the problem of not having enough good quality choices in their local social circles for many eligible Chinese singles, whether in Asia or other regions of the world.

TNLI: What advantages does AiMatchMaker have compared to other online dating platforms?

Shiau: “Matching without location limitation,” can effectively increase the probability for ethnic Chinese singles to find the “right one.” Ethnic Chinese tend to marry other ethnic Chinese for many reasons, such as family preference, but they often have limited choices if only searching in the local community. When some people think long distance might be an issue, over 50 percent of our users told us that long distance is acceptable as long as they are matched with the right candidate, and they can figure out a solution to work together.

TNLI: What have been the biggest challenges for you so far? How did AiMatchMaker solve such problem?

Shiau: To tell people that we are truly helping them find the right one and happiness. It seems like people have all, more or less, heard some bad stories about dating apps or traditional offline matchmaking services. One of the most frequently asked questions is “whether the users in your database are all real?” And we always answer with a proud, “Yes, the users in our database are all real. We filter out fake accounts and call girl accounts to make sure the quality of this platform.” This allows AiMatchMaker to gain users’ trust and differentiate from other competitors. After all, a trustworthy brand is the one and only asset that can make AiMatchMaker stand out and last.

TNLI: Does AiMatchMaker plan to promote itself in the Western market? How will AiMatchMaker grow in the future?

Shiau: With very limited promotion in Chinese context, about 10 percent of our users are already from North America. We think the best way to promote the AiMM mobile app is by word of mouth about our products and the global candidate pool. For our premium service, we will have our “matchmaker on the go” tour in North America in Q2 and Q3 of 2017.

TNLI: What does AiMatchMaker hope to achieve in the long-term?

Shiau: We believe AiMatchMaker will gather ethnic Chinese from all places and become the “Number One” dating and matchmaking service choice globally for ethnic Chinese.

TNLI: What are AiMatchMaker’s most exciting upcoming products or plans?

Shiau: We launched our one-on-one premium service in November 2016. Without any paid promotion, we have been receiving requests from Taiwan, U.S., Hong Kong, Japan and so on. This is a brand new matchmaking service, combining the online global candidate pool and offline custom-made matchmaking process. We have been receiving very positive feedback regarding our service process and the quality of the candidate pool. Enabled by technology, we look forward to changing the negative public perception in matchmaking service.

Editor: Edward White